Sunday, October 21, 2012

My new aquatic snail

This past summer, I set up a little aquarium in my kitchen. Its only inhabitant has been a little Betta fish until the other day, when I decided the algae growing abundantly on every surface needed to be controlled. Specifically, I decided it should be eaten by a snail.

I chose a nerite snail because I read that they were compatible with Bettas, they don't eat the live plants, and they like their water more alkaline. (my tank is about 8.2) And, even though they can survive in a range of water conditions, they can't reproduce unless they are in brackish water, so I won't end up with a bunch of baby snails all over the tank.

starting on the flowerpot
So, here is his stripey self! He has wasted no time, starting his wandering/cleaning/eating moments after he was released into the tank.

eating his was along
See his little "teeth marks" on the flowerpot?

snail mouth
Here is a view of his mouth, from when he was cruising the tank wall.

a molluscan eye
Oh, and how'bout that snaily eye? Kinda reminds me of an octopus. A little.

scrubbin' the flowerpot
By the next morning, he had eaten off quite a lot of the algae from the pot.

cleaning the rocks
Getting down to business on the rocks.

clean rocks...
The rocks are even cleaner now than they were yesterday when I took this picture. The trade-off is poop, lots and lots of chocolate-sprinkle sized poop. But I hope that once he gets caught up, and all the visible algae gets eaten up, the poop machine will dial down a few notches as the snail goes into more of a maintenance-mode.

the meandering trail
His seemingly random and meandering path reminds me of two things: First, the Family Circus comics, where little Billy often wanders a dotted-line path all over the neighborhood. Second, a certain little autonomous robotic vaccuum cleaner, after which I have named my new snail: Roomba!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Nature is beautiful and harsh

While wandering through the arboretum this afternoon, I was scanning the milkweed plants, looking for monarch caterpillars, when I noticed a butterfly, hanging oddly still.

a monarch, hanging oddly

Mantis eating a Monarch butterfly
Closer inspection revealed the butterfly was in the clutches of a large praying mantis.

in her grasp
Sad for the butterfly, yes, but this is nature, no less than a lioness devouring a zebra. Powerful. Beautiful. Life and death.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

At long last, a banana slug!

Banana slug!
We are on the last leg of our vacation, and today we drove south along the coast through Big Sur. It was cloudy and drizzly, and the little canyon trail we found proved to be perfect slug habitat.

I resisted the urge to bring one home, but just barely.
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